I treasure Ordinary Time in winter, this period between Christmas and Lent. The Church wisely sets aside the quieter seasons of Ordinary Time, allowing us space to ponder and make real in our everyday lives the fullness of Christ’s Incarnation.
The gospels record that those present at Jesus’ baptism heard God’s voice declare: “This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him.” Later in Jesus’ public life, he is transfigured in the presence of his friends, Peter, James and John. Once again, the voice of the Father is heard acknowledging his Son. But this time, the gospels add: “This is my beloved Son….Listen to him.”
The gospel readings in Ordinary Time recount incidents of Jesus’ public life. His parables and preaching describe God’s kingdom, where the humble, meek, pure of spirit and persecuted reign, where all are welcome and no one is excluded. Christ’s miracles witness to God’s mercy and healing. To all who approach him, Jesus reveals the Face of God with a look of acceptance and compassion.
Our lives are rarely “ordinary,” and yet it is in the everyday happenings—boring, dramatic, happy or tragic—that God the Father says to us: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Everything God wants to say to us has been said in his Son. St. John of the Cross, beloved Carmelite friar, poet, mystic and saint, states: “The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son.”
“Listen to him.” What is God saying to me in Jesus? Our monastery is located in the beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley. In the quiet of wintertime, I try to pause during the day—for a minute, five minutes, a half-hour walk—and give God my attention. One hears in silence what we so easily miss in the noisiness of our lives. God does not disappoint us when we allow the Word of God to speak to us, when we listen to God with the ears of our heart.